Humanitarian OSM Team/Working groups/Community/HOT Resolution Process

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Executive Summary

Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team is a global, diverse community. We are guided by humanitarian principles and the membership code of conduct From time to time, we may disagree on approaches or conversational points. This document outlines a resolution process to improve and support healthy, productive communications.

Note: this proposal has been shared on the HOT mailing list and will be proposed in the next Community Call.

Key Messages

We want to encourage the following behaviour for the Board, Membership and wider community. These are the key messages and steps to ‘de-escalation’ if and when tensions arise:

  • Step back to contemplate, take an email/conversation timeout (1 hour, 1 day)
  • Pausing, breathing time
  • Ask clarifying questions, recognize differences in opinion, language, and culture
  • Name and identify "escalation" or "provocative" statements
  • Board members are expected to be leaders supporting good conduct
  • Review Communications basics: an overview of non-violent communications
  • Encourage respect, professionalism, and "fun"

Steps to Normalize/De-escalate any conversation

When a comment, conversation or process is not appropriate or when tensions might be rising, here are some ways to normalize or de-escalate a situation:


Prevention Methods for the community

  • Build a list of common terms for common language e.g. conflict of interest, project
  • Have a community session on negotiation/mediation (Best practices and how to)
  • Create/set procedure for working (board + WG + operation)
  • We need a common standard to grow as a healthy, sustainable community. A common standard refers to how we handle escalated situations -- and how to prevent things from being escalated to begin with! And this being needed to grow as a healthy, sustainable community.

Individual/Group Considerations

  • Don't get provoked when you (feel) that you are being provoked
  • Be especially aware of how easy it is to misunderstand (benefit of doubt, clarify (ask))
  • "Enforce"/encourage a code of conduct means being kind, human and collaborative
  • Ask clarifying questions
  • Seek a second opinion
  • Set/agree on discussion culture - objective expression of feelings and needs, listen respect, adapt
  • Who needs to be in the conversation?
  • Sleep overnight (before sending reply)
  • Acknowledge there are cultural and personal differences
  • Gather for real time discussion for reducing (written) misunderstanding. Build a best practice of moving to a phone (example services: Skype or mumble or video (G+)) call after questionable items identified
  • Ask a friend, board member, partners, individual fellow members for communications support, feedback or help
  • Don't get provoked when you (feel) that you are being provoked
  • Don't give emotion response to another emotional response. Separate response from feeling
  • "humanize" the situations


The HOT Board and Membership could do the following actions to build a strong resolution process.

  • A common conception of how the board will support and communicate
  • Write an "op-ed" (article) on how conflict/global diversity can move forward (background paper) "context"
  • Have a process for mediation/negotiation that the membership/community agrees
  • Have a person or group of people to be trained in mediation/negotiation
  • Process for enforcing code of conduct follow through/action
  • HOT Conflict resolution process (with an appointed body)

Supporting Items/Questions

  • "Incident" Management Documentation process
  • How do we identify what is a problem
  • Have a moderator on mailing list? - One that is not a board member
  • Problem -> action -> details -> consequences -> decisions -> next steps -> suggestions